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Too young for these aches

Man, I'm feeling frustrated by it today. I'm 41 years old, and for the past few years it seems like I've been aging doubletime.

First, there's the pain in my upper arm, which my brother-in-law (physical therapist) says is probably reflected shoulder pain. It feels like when you sidearm a baseball a little too wide, something I did plenty of as a teenager, and when I first started feeling it I thought those times when I'd just shake it off (as you can when you're young) were coming back to haunt me.

Then came the hip problems. My right hip just doesn't have the range of motion it used to, and it is often achy. It probably got worse last year when I blew out my knee and my gait was off for a while.

I have seen a physical therapist and a chiro now, and the next stop (which maybe should have been the first) is an orthopedist. I didn't start there because, you know, PTs and chiropractors never use the S word...Now the problem is that everyone needs to see the dentist first.

I look around at other women my age and don't see them having a hard time when they first stand up. In my kickboxing group, I'm the only one who can't kick the imaginary jerk in the groin--I'm lucky to break his imaginary kneecaps.

I've been pretty active for the last 15 years, I'm overweight but not staggeringly so, and I've always eaten reasonably healthy (little fast food, no coffee or alcohol, mostly wholesome, home-made foods, but I'll admit to too much sugar though for sure not more than a lot of Americans eat).

Mom has arthritis in her back, which didn't set in for her until she was in her 60s, but I see my hip moving (or not moving) in much the same way hers does.

I think I'm feeling more than usually bugged by it all today because a friend of mine, who broke her foot, had no insurance, and was given poor and sloppy treatment, had a great experience. A guy came to buy one of her pups, and she noted his check indicated he was an orthopedic surgeon. She asked about the healing time for a broken foot, and he offered to examine her in her kitchen. Gave her a more thorough exam than anyone had to date, then insisted on arranging for all corrective treatment including physical therapy, and refused any payment. When she said, "I'd been thinking I'd be crippled for life," I thought, wow...that's what's been in the back of my mind lately too. I've moved from believing I had some kind of temporary stiffness to feeling like I might never walk normally again.

Anyway...a little venting always helps, you know?

Thu. Jul 12, 10:52am

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I can relate to a lot of what you're saying.

I don't think you mentioned how much weight you're trying to lose, but losing some pounds will reduce the load those joints are carrying and hopefully reduce some of the problems you describe.

Additionally, you didn't indicate whether you're male or female, but I'm assuming female. If so, you might do some reading about perimenopause - you're at the age where you might begin to experience various physical changes. The good news is -- the effects of those changes can be mitigated through healthy eating and exercise.

You might consider whether you're eating a properly balanced diet (including a reasonable multivitamin), getting enough water, enough sleep, etc.

I experienced much of what you describe when I was in my early 40s (I'll turn 52 in a few weeks). I even had knee surgery, which made things worse. When I was 48, I became involved with a group that refurbishes donated computers for needy kids and ended up spending several hours several times a week hauling computers and heavy monitors around. I expected to experience joint problems, hip pain, etc., but the opposite happened. I've never been so strong and energetic in my life.

Last year, I suffered a severe foot fracture in an accident that had nothing to do with the computers. I was completely laid up and in a lot of pain for several weeks. I had to learn to walk all over again and thought the loss of strength, agility, energy, confidence, etc., would be permanent and that I would be "old" as a result. I have had to work very long and very hard, but I've increased my walking from short painful trips to the bathroom up to an average of three miles a day.

I do continue to experience some pain, but not enough to interfere with my daily activities and continued weight loss.

I hope some of these might be helpful to you. If not, I strongly encourage you to visit your physician and rule out other underlying health issues that might be at play.

Let us know how it goes!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007, 7:31 PM

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Get into yoga, pilates or some kind of stretching routine. Try glucosamine supplements.

Friday, July 13, 2007, 8:50 AM

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I'm taking glucosamine and I've done Pilates, though I'm out of the habit right now. I love Pilates but haven't been able to decide what effect it has on my hip. It doesn't seem to improve things and it may exacerbate them. The thing is, this isn't simple stiffness that can be relaxed into and stretched out. If it were, I'd have taken care of it easily--I have a lot of dance training and I know how to relax into a stretch. But this has an entirely different feel than that of common tight muscles/ligaments.

Pilates causes some increased problems with my shoulder--I can't do the side leg series exercises properly because I can't rest my elbow on the floor and put my hand behind my head while positioned on my side. I modify those and I'm okay, though.

It's frustrating because I have a lot of knowledge and none of it is working. The glucosamine seems to be having some effect, if I can just get a steady routine down for taking it (I'm forgetful).

Friday, July 13, 2007, 10:52 AM

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One of my group members once recommended a massage therapy technique called "pin and stretch" which she said really improved all the things you are talking about. She said you really need to find someone who knows the proper way to perform it though.

Friday, July 13, 2007, 11:08 AM

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